A systems-wide analysis of HeLa cell lines from more than a dozen labs around the world uncovered broad variety, the University of Zurich's Ruedi Aebersold and his colleagues report in a Nature Biotechnology paper this week.
They cultured 14 HeLa stock samples from 13 labs — including seven HeLa CCL2 lines, one HeLa S3 line, and six HeLa Kyoto lines — to analyze any differences in copy numbers, mRNAs, proteins, and protein turnover in each line. They found notable differences between HeLa CCL2 and HeLa Kyoto lines, leading them to suggest that future studies indicate which type of HeLa line was used. They found for instance, that gene expression between the two lines varied as much as has been since from different cells lines originating from different tissues.
At the same time, the researchers also found differences based on passage time in culture, with differences arising after three months, and urge others to record and document the sources of their cell lines and culture protocols. They also recommend that investigators conduct repeat testing in other versions of the cell line, different cell lines, or even in different labs.
"[W]e hope that our study fuels the community discussions and consideration toward a new level of cell authentication by documenting the precise molecular makeup of the cells, whether carrying the same name or not, used for a study," Aebersold and his colleagues write in their paper.